Vladimir Putin met with members of Security Council

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.

The participants discussed preparations for the inter-Syrian talks in Astana, including Vladimir Putin’s recent telephone conversations with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They also touched on current socio-economic issues in Russia.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
  • Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino
  • Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko
  • State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin
  • Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev
  • Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
  • Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
  • Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov
  • Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin
  • Presidential Representative for Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov


Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53730

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Vladimir Putin with members of Security Council.
Vladimir Putin. Security Council.

Putin met with Murmansk Region Governor Marina Kovtun

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Murmansk Region Governor Marina Kovtun, who briefed the President on the region’s socioeconomic situation and large investment and environmental projects.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon. Let us take a look at the situation in the region.

Murmansk Region Governor Marina Kovtun:

Mr. President, I would like to start with our performance in 2016 and the current situation in the region.

The results of our socioeconomic performance last year are evidence of economic stability, and some indicators point to positive trends.

We can report industrial production growth for the second year running. 2016 yearend growth will be 2 percent year on year, mostly due to our mining and metals sectors.

Investment in fixed capital has increased 20 percent up to 48.2 billion rubles for the first 10 months of the past year. Corporate revenues have increased 50 percent and freight turnover 12 percent.

According to estimates, our 2016 gross regional product increased by more than 0.4 percent. Industrial production and transportation companies account for almost half of the gross added value and over 60 percent of extra-budgetary investment.

Large industrial companies, which we see as our flagship companies, form the basis of the region’s economic stability. These include the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company of Norilsk Nickel, PhosAgro’s mining and processing company Apatit, and [Eurochem’s] Kovdorsky GOK mining and processing. Thanks to these companies tax revenue has increased by over 13.5 percent and we have used these funds to reach our priority goals.

One goal was to raise wages in the public sector, which we increased by 6.2 percent on October 1. We have also decreased the Murmansk Region’s sovereign debt and so reduced our debts. According to the federal Ministry of Finance, the Murmansk Region is a region with a high quality of management. We are proud of this evaluation.

We had a deficit-free budget in 2016 and plan to have a minor budget surplus of 70 million rubles in 2017.

We reduced our sovereign debt to 41 percent from 46 percent in 2015 and the commercial part of our sovereign debt from 67 to 53 percent. This year, we will continue working to increase the efficiency of our budgetary spending, that is, the use of budgetary funds.

Our priority is certainly May 2012 executive orders. Over the past four years, the Murmansk Region has been one of the three leading regions in terms of complying with the May executive orders in the Northwestern Federal District. We will review the main results after the publication of the official statistics, but even now our estimates indicate that we have executed the May executive orders in full.

I would like to say a few words about salaries. In general, the private sector has seen an average salary increase of 5.5 percent to 47,390 rubles. In the public sector, the growth is somewhat lower: 4.2 percent, with average salaries at about 42,710 rubles. Generally, there is growth, but not in real terms, where it has even declined by 2 percent.

The situation on the labor market is stable. The official unemployment rate is 1.5 percent, or even lower than the same period last year.

According to the 2016 results (as tabulated by the Federal Government), the Murmansk Region has joined the top 20 regions with the best socioeconomic development results; we will even receive a bonus worth 218 million rubles from the Finance Ministry.

Of course, our main goal is to enhance the region’s investment appeal and improve the investment climate. We have created an investment support system in the region that is equally efficient in working with both major and small investors. As of today, we have signed twelve investment agreements on state support for strategic and priority projects (we have a classification for this). These investments will total over 90 billion rubles and more than 7,000 jobs will be created.

Let me list just a few projects. They include NOVATEK projects to establish a center for the construction of large-capacity offshore installations on the western coast of Kola Bay. After receiving an endorsement from the government expert review panel, the company will start on the project later this year. In 2017, as planned, we expect Rosneft to implement its projects to create an onshore support base for offshore projects. The total amount of investment for 2017–2030, as stated by Rosneft, is estimated at 120 billion rubles. NOVATEK’s investment will be some 25 billion rubles plus 3,000 new jobs. Of course, this is an important project for us.

As far as Rosneft projects are concerned, we, as per your executive order, have delineated the village of Roslyakovo, and Murmansk has annexed it. Now there are no obstacles to inviting foreign investors there.

The Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (Norilsk Nickel) remains one of our major investors. They are implementing a number of investment projects and the total volume of investment amounts to over 20 billion rubles. The major projects include the creation of a cobalt and nickel electroextraction plant. The Kola Peninsula is now home to the world’s largest nickel refinery. Almost all nickel production plants have been transferred to the Kola Peninsula. Norilsk Nickel pays a great deal of attention to the environment. The company’s environmental footprint has been reduced, including a reduction in Sulphur dioxide emissions, which have been cut by more than a quarter, and a two-time reduction in carbon monoxide emissions.

A visitor center of the Pasvik nature reserve will open soon. This is an environmental project implemented by Norilsk Nickel. It will be a powerful international environmental platform for environmental education of the people of Russia, and the border areas of Norway and Finland.

Mr. President, I would like to take a moment to talk about the Year of the Environment. Your executive order announced 2017 the Year of the Environment, and I would like to tell you about a project that has been implemented on the Kola Peninsula. It took us 12 years to complete. I’m sure you are aware of it. This is what it looks like. (Watching a presentation.) This is probably one of the most important environmental projects associated with the elimination of the Soviet nuclear legacy.

Vladimir Putin:

Submarines.

Marina Kovtun:

Yes, the disposal of submarines. It was implemented by the Rosatom State Corporation in conjunction with their German colleagues. Germany alone has invested over 600 million euros at various phases of this project. An important nuclear waste management project has been implemented, and a lot of work has been done. I have already mentioned that the project was implemented over the course of 12 years. The main partners were the Russian Kurchatov Institute and the German Energiewerke Nord.

Here’s what we have accomplished. The place is called Sayda Bay. It is now completely environmentally safe. We have built the infrastructure for getting rid of nuclear submarines and introduced an effective nuclear waste management system. This is a major complex which can accommodate 155 reactor compartments from nuclear submarines. This project is unparalleled in terms of technology and safety.

Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit this unique facility. I think it's worthwhile, because, really, it's the work of an outstanding Russian-German team (it is not just an engineering team, but also a creative team), and, one must give credit where credit is due, this is a one-of-a-kind project, which resolves the issue of long-term nuclear waste storage, not only in northwestern Russia, but the entire Arctic as well.

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Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53728

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Vladimir Putin and Marina Kovtun.
Vladimir Putin meeting with Murmansk Region Governor Marina Kovtun.
Marina Kovtun, Murmansk Region Governor.
Marina Kovtun, Murmansk Region Governor.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Marina Kovtun.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Marina Kovtun.

Murat Kumpilov appointed Acting Head of the Republic of Adygeya.

Vladimir Putin signed Executive Order On Acting Head of the Republic of Adygeya.

In connection with the expiry of the term of office of Head of the Republic of Adygeya Aslan Tkhakushinov, the President appointed Murat Kumpilov Acting Head of the Republic of Adygeya until the newly elected head of the Republic assumes office.

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Murat Kumpilov appointed Acting Head of the Republic of Adygeya.
Murat Kumpilov appointed Acting Head of the Republic of Adygeya.

Putin met with Aslan Tkhakushinov and Murat Kumpilov

Vladimir Putin hold a meeting with Aslan Tkhakushinov and Murat Kumpilov.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Tkhakushinov, I am aware that you have found a replacement. How many years have you worked [in this position]?

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

It has been ten years, eight of which I have worked side by side with Murat Kumpilov. We achieved good economic indicators: he was in charge of the economy and on top of all the developments. We were the targets of identical anonymous letters. (Laughter.) We did our work the same way.

Vladimir Putin:

I would like to thank you for the work you have done in your republic.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin:

You have worked responsibly, seriously, and thoroughly. Thank you very much.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

Mr. President, remember, you promised to come to Adygeya, but never did.

Vladimir Putin:

I will some day.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

We have built 344 new facilities, among them a stadium, a shooting range and a judo training center named after Vladimir Nevzorov, our pupil.

Vladimir Putin:

That is great. Thank you, I will definitely come.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

I am very grateful to you for always being there for us and for your continued support. I call you a perpetuum mobile. You are everywhere at any given time. I wonder how you manage to keep up such a pace. It must be sambo or judo.

Vladimir Putin:

That's right.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

Our people have great respect for you and send their thank you to you.

We recommend Mr. Kumpilov as a responsible and competent individual.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Kumpilov, you have lived almost all of your life in the republic, correct? You were in charge of the taxes?

Murat Kumpilov:

Yes. After graduation, I worked at the Treasury, then the Taxation Service, followed by the Cabinet, where I served as Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister. Now, I am the Parliament Speaker.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

I will not be getting in his way. I will do my best to help him in every way.

Vladimir Putin:

I have no doubt about it.

Aslan Tkhakushinov:

We want Adygeya to be even stronger and become a benchmark republic. If not, we want to at least become fully free from subsidies. We have already reduced our dependence on them, and want to become fully independent. We have many things to accomplish, and we know we can make them happen.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

(Addressing Murat Kumpilov) There is nothing I need to tell you about the republic. You know well how things are, and you are aware of the republic’s goals in terms of development that people expect you to achieve. You have proper experience. I hope that this tandem of yours will remain intact, and you will continue to work effectively. I wish you success.

Murat Kumpilov:

Mr. President, thank you for your trust. I will make every effort to fulfil all of your instructions and executive orders. Of course, socioeconomic development and standard of living are high on the list of our priorities.

Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53726

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Vladimir Putin, Aslan Tkhakushinov, Marat Kumpilov, Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin meeting with Aslan Tkhakushinov and Murat Kumpilov.
Vladimir Putin Kremlin.
Putin at meeting with Aslan Tkhakushinov and Murat Kumpilov at Kremlin.
Aslan Tkhakushnov at Kremlin.
Aslan Tkhakushinov meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Marat Kumpilov at Kremlin.
Murat Kumpilov meeting with Vladimir Putin at Kremlin.

Telephone conversation with Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Turkish side’s initiative.


The two leaders focused on the situation in Syria. They pointed out that the ceasefire agreements reached between the Syrian Government and the moderate opposition through the mediation of Russia and Turkey have been mostly complied with and agreed to continue their joint efforts to prepare the intra-Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.


They also discussed bilateral issues, including the full revival of trade and economic ties and holding a meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, which is co-chaired by the two heads of state, in the near future.

Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53725

Telephone conversation with Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The two leaders discussed preparations for the upcoming international conference on Syrian conflict resolution in Astana, and several other aspects of bilateral cooperation.

Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53724

Putin congratulated the staff of the Russian Prosecutor Office.

Vladimir Putin congratulated current officers and veterans of Russia’s prosecution agencies on their professional holiday and the 295th anniversary of the Prosecution Service in Russia.


The message reads, in part:

“The protection of the interests of the state, society and citizens has remained the key priority of the prosecution service regardless of changing political eras and pages of history.

Today we are celebrating those who work every day to strengthen the traditions of uncompromising protection of the law laid down by the best representatives of the prosecution corps and tackle responsible tasks facing one of the main national law enforcement agencies as effectively as possible. I would like to stress that your competence, persistence and impeccable personal behavior are crucial for strengthening the nation’s legal framework and for the effective fight against crime, corruption and other threats.

I am confident that you will remain loyal to your professional duties and will faithfully serve the Fatherland.”
Russian President, Vladimir Putin.


Putin.BLOG - PHOTO:


Russian Prosecution Service.
Russian Prosecution Service.

Putin's meeting with Government members.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members to discuss Russia’s socioeconomic priorities for 2017.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues,

Congratulations on the start of the new working year

I propose we begin this meeting by discussing several issues, in particular our performance during the period of extremely cold weather

Let us start with Mr. Puchkov, and after that I would like to ask Mr Men to report on the operation of the housing and utilities system. Also, I would like the Energy Minister to speak about the performance of Russia’s energy system

Let us start working. Mr. Puchkov, go ahead, please.

Minister of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Vladimir Puchkov

Mr. President, colleagues,

Overall, the technology-related, natural and fire safety situation has been stable. On the other hand, a gas explosion and fire were reported at 10:55 am today at 11 Moskovskoye Shosse in Saratov. The fire and rescue teams arrived at the site within eight minutes, put out the fire on 250 square meters and saved 11 people, including two children.

Unfortunately, 10 people have been injured in the explosion. Immediate medical assistance has been provided to three of them, and the other seven have been taken to a hospital. One of them is in a serious condition. Healthcare Ministry teams are providing targeted medical assistance to all those who require it. An emergencies commission is working at the site and practical assistance has been organized for those who were taken to hospital and for the victims’ families. Temporary accommodation facilities have been set out, and the Struna specialized laboratory of the Emergencies Ministry will be dispatched there to issue recommendations already today on whether people should be resettled from the other two sections of the building, which were not damaged in the fire. The National Crisis Management Center is monitoring the situation

As for the winter holidays as a whole, the personnel of the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Relief have taken proper measures at over 43,000 facilities in all cities and towns. This has helped us ensure public safety at over 20,000 New Year parties, children’s matinees and other events held between December 25 and January 10. There have been no problems or losses. Proper protection and safety measures were taken at over 7,000 facilities on January 7. Thanks to this, people celebrated Christmas without any major problems. Also, other prevention measures have been taken

Overall, we have put out 3,600 fires during the New Year holidays. The response teams of the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Healthcare Ministry provided relief during over 2,000 serious road traffic accidents. In general for the past 10 years, the situation during this New Year’s season has been rather stable. The number of technology-related fires and the number of those injured in them was smaller. We have reduced losses from natural disasters and industrial accidents, and took measures to protect public safety on the water.

Considering the severe cold weather, we deployed 140 warming centers that also offered food, where over 50,000 people received assistance thanks to the cooperation of the Emergencies Ministry, public organizations and volunteers.

There were 24 serious housing and utilities accidents that called for additional efforts from the fire, public order and healthcare teams, which helped reduce the losses and restore all vital service systems without delay.

Particular attention was paid to promptly responding to citizens’ complaints. All traditional winter holiday and domestic tourism spots have been covered. Over 1,400 ice fishing spots have been covered by professional teams. Ice crossings and winter roads were open to traffic under special monitoring. In general, the governing bodies and forces of the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Relief have done a fairly good job, which allowed us to improve the indicators of our professional activity. However, based on weather forecasts, we are now regrouping our forces and revising our priorities in the regions where we expect a sharp drop in temperature or unfavorable weather changes. We are stepping up the operations of all Roshydromet departments. The crisis management systems are in place, and we are providing direct assistance and support to local governments.

We are ready for Old New Year celebrations (to be held during the night of January 13–14), and have an additional division of rescuers and divers ready for January 19, the Epiphany. The governing bodies and forces of the unified system continue to perform their tasks.

That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

Good

Report to me later with an update on the gas explosion.

Vladimir Puchkov:

Will do, Comrade President.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Medvedev, please have a word with the governor. Help them if they need help.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev:

Yes, of course.

Vladimir Putin:

Cases of malfunctioning utilities are down 17 percent compared to the same period last year. However, there were quite a few violations.

Please go ahead.

Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Prior to the New Year holiday, all Russian regions were instructed to monitor the emergency services’ operations and check the procedure for emergency responses. Lists with the names of the officials responsible for the proper functioning of equipment were drawn up for each day of the holidays in all Russian regions and all municipalities. Telephone hot lines for heat supply issues were open in all regions. We inspected the work of some of them and didn’t find any major issues.

Indicatively, accident rate is going down faster in those regions of the Russian Federation that practice public-private partnership rather than at state and municipal unitary enterprises. Here are some telling figures: in regions with public-private partnerships (35 in the Russian Federation), the accident rate for heat supplies went down by 47 percent on average, and by 21 percent for water supplies. There are good examples in the Tambov Region, the Pskov Region, and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, to name a few.

The well-coordinated work of the regional authorities in this season should be noted. For example, a drop in temperature to ?32 C in the Orenburg Region disrupted its heat supply network and the boiler’s operation. Emergency services coped with this accident in a matter of hours. They launched a stand-by heat supply system and completely resolved other problems by the end of the day.

During the New Year holiday utility services effectively responded to several accidents that occurred for different reasons in the Moscow Region. There were no emergencies despite extremely low temperatures.

However, some regions were not up to the mark. In the Irkutsk Region we were informed at teleconferences and in written reports that all municipal units were fully ready for the heating season. However, an on-the-spot check in the city of Vikhorevka pointed to certain problems and eventually its boiler came to a stop despite all the reports on its normal operation. As a result, the governor fired the minister in charge.

However, on the whole there is a drop in the accident rate. Among other things we plan to continue developing public-private partnership agreements. In the housing and utilities sector we have 663 municipal and state unitary enterprises. In line with your instructions, the switch to public-private partnership is being made here.

People first turn to the managing company. This is the closest organization to contact. Accidents often happen not only in the grid but also in residential buildings. Therefore, we will continue improving legislation on licensing managing companies. Today we are actively working in this field. Our next goal is to introduce a unified standard for managing residential buildings. It will take into account checks of utility equipment and, most important, response time following complaints. That concludes of my report.

Vladimir Putin:

When do you plan to introduce this standard?

Mikhail Men:

By the end of the year, as a priority project.

Vladimir Putin:

Why so slowly? What stages do you have to go through?

Mikhail Men:

The law needs to be amended. We will try to do this in six months.

Vladimir Putin:

Of course. We must have this standard at least for next winter.

Mikhail Men:

Will do.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

Mr. Novak, tell us about the energy sector please.

Minister of Energy Alexander Novak:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Despite bad weather and abnormally low temperatures in some regions, Russia’s energy system coped with the situation fairly well without any system failures, as scheduled. The necessary amounts of fuel reserves, and even more, were provided for power generation stations; a power reserve of about 17,000 MW was made; the grid companies worked reliably.

In general, electricity consumption went up by 3.8 to 5 percent in the regions with low temperatures. The load on power plants during this period was up 10 percent to 143,970 MW. We had about 14 non-system accidents in the generating complex, which were immediately compensated for by reserves. They didn’t affect consumer supplies. The response to these accidents took place as part of routine operations, as in previous periods. Compared to the same period last year, which was warmer, the number of accidents in the generating complex has remained at the previous year’s level.
As for the grid complex, it also performed reliably. This period was unusual, because the temperatures went from positive to strongly negative readings leading to icing of wires and cables, which increased our wire de-icing operations six-fold.

We had 20 percent more emergency teams on duty than usual during the New Year holiday season – 9,554. Over 23,000 pieces of equipment were in operation (on an as-needed basis) and about 4,500 reserve energy sources, which were also used on an as-needed basis.

We didn’t have any system emergencies in our power engineering complex, and the New Year holidays were uneventful in that sense.

With regard to gas supplies, we covered the consumer demand in full. There were two emergency situations in Daghestan and the Krasnodar Territory resulting from traffic accidents, not the gas transportation system. The gas transportation system performed reliably.

In late 2016, you launched the operation of the gas transportation system for Crimea. On December 30, we began supplying gas via the Russian gas transportation system to cover peak demand. So far, we have supplied over 20 million cubic meters of gas to Crimea. In general, the situation is normal. We continue to work. The season is not over yet, and lying ahead is a lot of work pertaining to the autumn-winter period.

Vladimir Putin:

There were technological mishaps in the Moscow Region, the Orenburg Region and Sakha (Yakutia). Has everything been fixed there?

Alexander Novak:

Yes, Mr President, power transmission lines went out of order in these regions. There were fixed locally in the routine manner. I would like to note that electricity supplies to consumers were restored twice as fast as last year – in an hour and a half. This is half the annual average. We are improving this indicator with every year. Considering the heightened attention to the problem during the New Year holidays, the recovery was twice as fast.

Vladimir Putin:
 
Okay.

Colleagues have already mentioned domestic tourism. It is growing with each passing year. It grew by 18 percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2016. What is happening now, during the New Year holidays? This is also the time when people go to winter resorts. The number of people doing winter sports, including alpine skiing, is also on the rise.

Mr. Safonov, go ahead please.

Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Indeed, there is a marked trend towards growing tourist flows in our country in the past 2.5 years. In the past, consumers chose travel in this country mostly for economic reasons, whereas now fans of different types of tourism are offered the broadest choice of tourist products, and most important, they enjoy absolute security of travel in Russia. As a result, domestic tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the Russian economy. As you said, the growth rates were 18 percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2016. The tentative results of the high tourist season (it is fairly long here and is not yet over) show that the tourist flow increased by nine percent on average throughout the country. It is very important for us that the occupancy of the regional tourist infrastructure is fairly high –80–100 percent in some regions.

I can cite resorts of Sochi, Moscow and its suburbs by way of example. Moscow and its suburbs were the most popular this winter with 2.5 million visitors, which is a five percent increase.
About 500,000 people went to the Krasnodar Territory – an increase of over eight percent. More than 390,000 visited St Petersburg, which is a very good trend – an increase of over 30 percent. Twice as many tourists came to Crimea although it is still a summer destination. Nonetheless, this is also a very important positive trend.

Cultural and educational tourism in Russia is popular with Russian and foreign tourists, and, of course, ski holidays are vastly popular as well. Importantly, our country has a major competitive advantage in this area, as we have long winters. The high tourist season lasts five to six months. As a rule, the snow cover is good and stable, which our competitors do not have. The infrastructure is well developed, and there is a large number of various exciting resorts in different Russian regions.
Over 4.5 million holidaymakers went to ski resorts during the 2014–2015 winter season, and 5 million in 2016. This year, we expect about 6 million people, that is, the growth rate is quite strong. The ski resorts of Sochi, the North Caucasus and Siberia are the most popular. There is a number of interesting ski resorts in the Altai Territory, the Kemerovo Region, the Urals and the Russian Far East. This is an important positive trend, because Russia is a northern country, and promoting winter sports is important in more than one way.

I would like to say that the regions have held a wide range of events, such as the Journey to Christmas Festival (Moscow), Tambov – the New Year Capital of Russia, tours to Veliky Ustyug, which is home to Father Frost, and so on. The events were held in different regions of our country, and enjoyed great popularity, which made our citizens’ and our foreign guests’ New Year holiday season fun and comfortable. Social media covered these events extensively with numerous postings and photographs.

I would like to say that an increase in inbound tourism to Russia has a great synergistic effect by promoting 53 sectors of our economy, creating new jobs, expanding small and medium-sized businesses, and increasing budget revenue of all levels. As an example, over the past few years, the Krasnodar Territory revenue generated only by the resort town of Sochi increased by 3.5 times. The development of tourism has a major synergistic effect on our economy.

Thank you. That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

This confirms that our efforts to develop Sochi as a year-round resort were not in vain, and we managed to accomplish a few good things. Anyway, the good result is obvious in Sochi.
How are things going in the North Caucasus, Mr. Kuznetsov?


Minister for North Caucasus Affairs Lev Kuznetsov:

Mr. President, developing the tourism industry is one of the priorities of the socioeconomic policy implemented in the North Caucasus, and in this regard developing the tourism cluster is a key project. Of course, the statistics on tourists are probably the most important indicator of the correctness and efficiency of state investments and the priorities chosen.

I am glad to say that for a few years, our resorts have shown positive dynamics. Now two resorts are working: Elbrus, first opened in the Soviet era, and Arkhyz, which is a newly developing resort; and we plan to put into operation the third resort, Veduchi, in Chechnya. These positive dynamics are measured not in single-digit percent changes, but double-digit.

In the first eight months of this year, there was a 46 percent increase at Arkhyz and about a 40 percent increase at Elbrus, compared to the same period last year. What is extremely important, in our estimation, given the fact that we have a strong rival, Sochi, is that we really have an international resort. As Mr. Safonov said, in previous years, economic factors influenced tourists, whereas now their choice depends on a resort’s quality. According to our statistics, our ski resorts in the North Caucasus are becoming competitive in terms of quality and carving out their niche.

For example, last year, we put into operation the unique cable lift at Elbrus, the highest in Europe, which is 3,847 meters long. Arkhyz, as a young resort, also attracts tourists. It is very important that the number of people who ski is growing. We do not drain tourists from other resorts but strengthen skiing. According to this year’s statistics, over 50 percent of tourists were skiing for the first time.
We also implement social programs, including free lessons for schoolchildren and free ski passes. Every year, we choose an age category – this year it’s those born in 2006 – and provide them with free ski passes, thus creating new skills, culture and traditions.

It is crucial that despite the inflation processes, we have kept our resorts affordable. We have not raised the ski pass price compared to last year; moreover, we have improved the program. We have a unique product – a seasonal ski pass that costs 15,000 rubles. As of now, we have more day-trippers, as we do not have ample accommodation even though there are many applications from the project residents. But this makes it possible for tourists to get a day ski pass for 500 rubles, which has no precedent even in similar Russian or international facilities. However, this does not damage the resort’s economy, as the turnover is improving thanks to the growing tourism. The project is proving to be effective. In our state-funded program, we are planning further investments both for increasing the number of resorts and for creating opportunities for Russian tourists.

Vladimir Putin:

Both you and I know that to make the North Caucasus a winter holiday destination, the major issue and task is the need to develop infrastructure. I hope that by 2021, and the major projects are scheduled to be completed exactly by 2021, I hope that they will be implemented, and that our citizens will have more opportunities for holidays in Russia, in the North Caucasus.

Is Maxim Sokolov present? Mr. Sokolov, how did transport perform during the New Year holidays?

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov:

Mr. President, colleagues,

The Transport Ministry also noted the growth of air and rail travel during the holiday season, and we can confirm that it is domestic routes that are most popular.

Traditionally, air travel is the most popular, and this year Russia’s largest airports served 20 percent more passengers than before, about 4 million people during the holiday season. Moscow airports served just under 3 million, as compared to 2.5 million in the previous period. Sochi had a great gain of around 10 percent, but the absolute leader was Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, which during the New Year holidays saw an increase of 30 percent on last year. Overall, both Sochi and Simferopol this year have surpassed the 5.2 million passengers benchmark and have become the country’s largest airports following the Moscow airports and St. Petersburg.

Thanks to the increase in the domestic flow, which set a record at 55 million this year, which is a 6 percent increase, we can say that air traffic by Russian airlines has not dropped too much, even though the major international destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, charter flights and Ukraine were shut down, yet the results are within the corrected results of the previous year. Russian airline companies have served 88 million passengers, even slightly more than that. And the leaders are not only Sochi, which was mentioned here, but also other airports in the North Caucasus and the Black Sea coast. For example, Anapa saw an increase of 20 percent, Kazan saw an increase of 30 percent, the Kaliningrad Region – almost 20 percent more passengers and tourists flew to Kaliningrad which certainly makes us happy. Tourism is really growing across the whole country. This also applies, among other areas, to the Urals and Siberia.

Regarding railway transport, here we are also witnessing a little growth, within five percent, both during the holiday season and throughout the year, especially for long-distance trains. This means that we have managed to reverse the downward trend of the past several years.

As for passenger traffic, especially to the Crimean peninsula, the Kerch ferry line has to be mentioned. On the whole, it also showed gains of around 30 percent during the year, with over six million passengers.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.


<…>

Putin.BLOG - PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin and Russian Government members at Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Government members.
Vladimir Puchkov at the meeting with the President Vladimir Putin.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov.
Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men.
Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men.
Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov.
Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov.

Putin congratulated Russian Prosecution Service

Vladimir Putin attended a meeting to mark the 295th anniversary of the Prosecution Service in Russia.


Vladimir Putin congratulated current workers and veterans of the Prosecution Service on their professional holiday, which is marked in Russia on January 12.

The meeting was attended by the veterans and department heads from the Prosecutor General’s Office and regional prosecutors.


* * *


President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr. Chaika, colleagues,

I am happy to congratulate you on your professional holiday and the 295th anniversary of the Russian Prosecution Service.

For nearly 300 years, this vital state institution has been safeguarding law and order and the legal foundations of our nation.

The service’s best workers remained loyal to their profession and served the country and the people with honor and dedication throughout the most difficult periods of our history.

Today the country and society need the Prosecution Service to work efficiently. The response of prosecutors at all levels to infringements on the law and human rights and freedoms must be prompt and effective. This alone will earn you the praise of those for whom all of us are working – the citizens of Russia.

You must remember that the Prosecution Service has been given a very broad authority to implement your professional duties. The status of your service is set forth in the Constitution, and the methods of the prosecutor’s oversight are sufficient not just for cutting violations short without delay but also for eradicating the grounds for them.

The Prosecution Service is playing a major role in nearly all spheres of life and in all areas of legal regulation.

It is important that the focus of your work has recently shifted to supervision of labor and social laws, including the payment of wages, pensions and benefits. I ask you to continue to monitor these issues especially closely.

You must give practical assistance to the socially vulnerable groups of population, including the elderly, people with disabilities and minors. Your assistance is invaluable in difficult situations, for example, in co-funded housing development and the protection of housing rights in general.

One of the topical issues is monitoring oversight bodies. Honest and transparent business must be safely protected by the state, including protection from unjustified inspections and other pressure.
In the past year, public prosecution bodies have detected over 150,000 violations related to state and municipal oversight of business. This area requires particular attention now and further on.

Another extremely important task is anti-corruption measures. I hope the Prosecutor General’s Office will be closely involved in improving the anti-corruption legislation.

The Prosecution Service must be constantly overseeing compliance with environmental laws and natural resource management. Prosecutors have initiated more than a thousand criminal cases on misappropriation of forest resources and fire safety violations in the forests alone.

The year 2017 has been proclaimed the Year of the Environment in Russia, and public prosecution bodies and other government authorities must work closer together on environmental issues in order to achieve new significant results.

And, of course, it is necessary to monitor the human rights situation with regard to individuals serving prison sentences. Penitentiary system standards fixed by law, inmates’ right to medical help and other rights must be observed without fail.

Colleagues, in the run-up to the anniversary, I outlined only some of the main areas of your expertise. You will discuss them in more detail at an annual extended board meeting. I believe that you will do your best to honorably fulfil your duties, strengthen the glorious traditions of the Russian prosecutor service, and contribute to solving strategic tasks for stronger and better Russia.

I congratulate you once again on the Prosecutor General’s Office Worker Day. I wish you good health and happiness to your families in 2017, and every success in your work.

Thank you for your attention.

<…>


Vladimir Putin:

Russian holidays are very long. First, we have the New Year, then Christmas and another tradition, the Old New Year. You also celebrate your professional day. Be careful.

But seriously, I sincerely wish you good luck and a productive year. A great deal depends on your work and you know it very well.

It is no coincidence that the Prosecution Service was established in our country. We have created our own prosecution service traditions and this institution holds a special place in the government system. I do not have to explain this to this audience, as you all know it quite well. You carry a huge responsibility, which itself means that the Prosecution Service must set an example of honest and faithful service.

Happy holiday and all the very best!

Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53719

Putin-BLOG PHOTO:


Vladimir Putin at the 295th anniversary of the Russian Prosecution Service.
Vladimir Putin at the 295th anniversary of the Russian Prosecution Service.
Vladimir Putin - congratulations on the 295th anniversary of the Russian prosecution service.
Vladimir Putin - congratulations on the 295th anniversary of the Russian prosecution service.
Vladimir Putin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. The 295th anniversary of the Prosecution Service in Russia.
Vladimir Putin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. The 295th anniversary of the Prosecution Service in Russia.

Meeting with Moscow State Univesity Rector Viktor Sadovnichy.

Viktor Sadovnichy updated Russian President on the implementation of the development program at Moscow State University and branch network expansion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Sadovnichy, what achievements can you report in 2016?

MSU Rector Viktor Sadovnichiy:

Mr. President, we ended 2016 with very good results. We have over 50,000 students, including 35,000 undergraduates and also post-graduates. Last year, we graduated 10,000 students, and this year we will have over 7,000 graduates, 25 percent of them A-level students.

We have completed several very good projects connected with the establishment of a University Gymnasium. We have enrolled the first group of talented young people from around Russia who have studied at the Sirius educational center for gifted children.

We have built a campus for 3,000 students, a healthcare center with European-class equipment, the Lomonosov and Shuvalov buildings and a library. In all, we have built 1 million square meters of floor space within five to seven years. In other words, we have implemented the development program.

We can also report good results in research. For the first time in the history of Russian and even Soviet universities, we have been ranked third in the world by academic reputation, that is, in terms of education quality. This has never happened before: Moscow State University is now rated third in the world, after Stanford and Oxford. It is a very high ranking; we have never received it before.

V. Putin:

The assessment has become more objective.

V. Sadovnichiy:

It has.

Mr. President, we have implemented your instructions and have created and are applying our own ranking of universities, the Moscow International Ranking. We will publish the first results, which will include foreign universities, in September – we discussed this at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Science and Education.

Vladimir Putin:

What can you say about your network of branches?

Viktor Sadovnichy:

We have unique branches. There are six of them. Look, these are the Lazarev Barracks in Sevastopol. We have completely renovated them. The branch opened in 1999 and now has 700 students. This is a sports centre; it has no match in southern Russia, with a 10-metre-high diving board and a swimming pool. And this is the campus and the academic buildings.

In general, we encountered great resistance when we decided to open a branch in Sevastopol back then. We were denied a license and excluded from the local academic environment. We had to use personal contacts, getting support from local education leaders, who continue to live there. And so we saved the branch. It was once in a difficult situation, but now it is prospering.

Vladimir Putin:

What is its specialty?

Viktor Sadovnichy:

It has five departments: mathematics, economics, geography, the Russian language and physics.

Vladimir Putin:

It sounds like a full-scale branch.

Viktor Sadovnichy:

And so it is.

Or take our Astana branch, which I have recently visited. We have set up a research department there at the request of President [of Kazakhstan Nursultan] Nazarbayev, who asked me to visit. Apart from the branch, we also contribute to the work of the Presidential Center in Astana.

This is our branch in Tashkent. It was established at the request of President [of Uzbekistan Islam] Karimov and opened in 2006.

And this is our branch in Baku, with a campus of its own. It is probably the best university in Azerbaijan. It has six departments and 500 students, the republic’s future elite.

Overall, our branches have 3,000 students. It is important that tuition at our branches is in Russian, and their graduates receive MSU diplomas and find employment in their countries. In other words, we are teaching friends; we hope we are.

This is our branch in Dushanbe [Tajikistan]; it has been successfully operating since 2010.

And this is the branch we opened last year…

Vladimir Putin:

In Yerevan, Armenia.

Viktor Sadovnichy:

The project was supervised by the President of Armenia.

In fact, presidents sponsor all our branches, which I see as the success of our mission – I consider our work there as a mission.

This is in China. In keeping with your agreements with the Chinese leaders, we are opening a joint university in Shenzhen. Our Chinese partners want a building that would resemble the MSU building in Moscow. We had a ground-breaking ceremony and received a [teaching] license; classes are to begin in September. It will be a joint university between MSU and the Beijing Institute of Technology, the first joint university in the history of Russian-Chinese relations.

In addition, after your visit to Slovenia, we will open a branch there as well.

We have very close ties with our Iranian partners. We have signed 37 agreements and have opened several Lomonosov Centers in Iran.

We are following the example of China’s Confucius Institute by opening Lomonosov Centers. We have them here and here…

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, in Lebanon and Italy.

Viktor Sadovnichy:

Yes.




Putin.BLOG - PHOTO:

Vladimir Putin and Viktor Sadovnichy.
Vladimir Putin meeting with Moscow State University Rector Viktor Sadovnichy.

Condolences to President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. El-Arish.

Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the death of Egyptian police officers and military personnel in a terrorist attack in El-Arish.


“What happened proves yet again that the international community needs to consolidate its efforts in countering international terrorism,”
Vladimir Putin stressed in his message of condolences.

President Putin reaffirmed that Russia is ready to further step up cooperation with its Egyptian partners in fighting this global threat.

Mr. Putin passed on words of sympathy and support to the victims’ families and friends and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.



Putin.BLOG – PHOTO:


Terrorist attack in El-Arish, Egypt.
Terrorist attack in El-Arish, Egypt.

Putin met with Higher School of Economics Rector

Yaroslav Kuzminov updated the President Putin on the implementation of the Academic Excellence Project 5–100.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Kuzminov, the Higher School of Economics will mark its 25th anniversary this year. How will you celebrate this notable event?

Rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov:

We will celebrate it with new achievements, as usual.

Thank you for this meeting and the opportunity to discuss the development of not just the HSE but also the entire group of our leading research universities that are participating in Project 5–100, which has been launched upon your instructions.

As you know, we have created an association of these universities, so-called global universities. This association includes all the 21 members of Project 5–100.

Every time I prepared for a meeting with you, people wondered if I brought you presents. I have, this time. I am pleased to report that over the two and a half years since the project was launched, five Russian universities have joined the world’s top 100 universities in individual subjects. They are the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Novosibirsk State University, ITMO University from St. Petersburg (you know it very well) and the HSE. They were ranked by different subjects, including computer science and physics. The HSE was ranked in the economics and management category.

I must say that projects such as Project 5–100 are being implemented in many countries. As you know, China first launched such a project in the 1990s. Their logic is very simple: to enhance the competitiveness of universities, to bite off a bigger chunk from the pie of intellectual capital, which has become the most sought-after resource, and to attract the world’s best students. We can say that the result we have achieved is based on the latent potential of Russian and Soviet universities, the potential that was unnoticed by the global community. It is very good that we started opening it up and demonstrating it to the global research community, particularly in the humanities and social studies, where Russia was strongly underestimated.

Actually, if we compare our university rankings, which are no less important than Doing Business, something we are also involved in, China has 36 universities among the top 100 universities in various subjects, India has nine and South Korea – 10 universities in a number of subjects. These countries have invested heavily in attaining this result: China has invested tens of billions of dollars over 20 years; and the other countries have invested billions of dollars over at least 10 years. Russia has attained its current rankings by investing some 40 billion rubles of budgetary funds and some 20 billion rubles in university funding. In other words, we have achieved a lot, and I am sure that more Russian universities will join the rankings in the future. Four are on the verge of joining the top 100 universities, and one university may join the top 150 or top 200 group in different subjects. The HSE is on the list of top 150 and top 200 universities in seven subjects, lagging behind only Moscow State University in this respect.
Of course, these rankings are only an indicator of the achievements, an acknowledgement of very hard work. The number of international publications by the association members has increased by 50 to 300 percent; fourfold at some universities, which also shows that they did not know how to present their results more favorably. They have learned to do this, and their achievements have been acknowledged. Their works have been published in the best and most popular magazines. The Global Universities Association accounts for 39 percent of all Russian publications in natural and engineering sciences and for 68 percent in social studies and the humanities.

Over the past two years, the volume of research per faculty member at our universities has increased by 50 percent reaching 1 million rubles per capita. This is a great deal, four times more than the average for Russia. Project 5–100 universities last year accounted for 27 percent of research projects at Russian universities. It was 21 percent before Project 5–100 was launched.

I will not list all the companies we work with, since I have already shared the materials with you. It would be fair to say that we work with practically all the major Russian companies. I think that the key achievement of this project is that we were able to reverse the trend in what is called global “brain circulation.” According to our calculations, at the Higher School of Economics, at ITMO University, at Novosibirsk University and a number of other participating universities, if not all of them, more foreigners have become permanent faculty members than Russians who left to work for Western universities.

We need to be part of this global movement of skill and talent and have a surplus in this area. The fact that we were able to achieve a surplus is a major accomplishment by our colleagues.

Vladimir Putin:

One may even say that it is a major breakthrough.

Yaroslav Kuzminov:

At the Peter the Great Polytechnic University in St. Petersburg, the number of foreign faculty and staff increased 10-fold compared to 2013.

Vladimir Putin:

This is an impressive and positive development. What matters most is that we attract specialists we really need.

Yaroslav Kuzminov:

Why would we hire people we do not need?

Vladimir Putin:

There was another figure I liked. The number of students who study remotely via internet using modern technology.

Yaroslav Kuzminov:

I think that we are going through an education revolution, almost like the revolution set off by Gutenberg and the printing press. In 2012, Coursera and edX, two major university associations, were formed. Today, the online courses they offer have almost 30 million users. Only half of them are students, while the other half are people with university degrees. This means that online courses have become the main form of life-long learning. According to estimates, by 2020 the number of people using international education online platforms will reach 100 million, while there are only 150 million students in the world, which means that by 2025 all but a few students will use online education tools.

This does not mean, however, that in-class education, seminars and lectures where students can be face-to-face with a professor will cease to exist. After all, when people started reading books they did not stop talking to their teachers. What this means is that uncompetitive education courses and universities will fade away, since we are operating in a competitive global environment that transcends borders.

It is also very important that we established the National Association for Open Learning in a timely manner. Currently, we have almost one million students using our online courses. If you look at the statistics of the Higher School of Economics, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and ITMO, we have almost 150,000 students in the United States, around 100,000 students in the EU and 50,000 students in Ukraine. This is the soft power that we gained thanks to new opportunities because we boarded this train just in time. We are not just working independently; we also cooperate with Coursera and edX.

Last autumn, Coursera, which is actively cooperating with Russian universities, convinced the US government to lift the embargo on teaching in Crimea. The ban has been lifted despite the fact that Coursera is an American company. Our colleagues from Coursera say that the reason they insisted on this was that Russian universities are actively involved in this education project and they respect Russian universities.

Vladimir Putin:

In general, I am pleased to see that the indicators are quite good and we are moving towards fulfilling the plans that we discussed before. Congratulations.

Yaroslav Kuzminov:

Thank you Mr. President. I think it is time to set new objectives for this group of universities. Speaking of subject-specific rankings, there are around 60–70 subject rankings in the world. With regards to continuing the project, technically it has been completed since five of our universities are in the top 100.

We discussed the matter before this meeting with you. We would like to suggest extending the project until 2025 and setting the objective that at least one Russian university be included in every subject-specific ranking by 2025, be it biology, life sciences or engineering.

This goal will place responsibilities on the Ministry of Education and Science for investment and additional support. Russia must be represented at the top of each ranking in all academic subject areas, not just in those where we have managed to get through.

Vladimir Putin:

We need to talk about this in greater detail.


Link: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53710

Putin.BLOG – PHOTO:

Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov
Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov.
Vladimir Putin and Yaroslav Kuzminov. Meeting. Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin and Yaroslav Kuzminov meeting at Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Higher School of Economics Rector.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Higher School of Economics Rector.